Christmas is a time for family, for traditions, love and pudding. This is how it goes in my house.
We ponder on the year that has been and spend unrestricted hours together with nothing particular on our schedule besides being. We read recipes, we cook, we eat. We sit and drink and talk, we walk and laugh and cry because we miss my brother. He died three days before Christmas, so there are a whole lot of emotions this time of year. I'll get suddenly angry, really angry. Or I feel like I've been punched in the chest. But then I'll also feel just so thankful for all the love in my life. And I'll want to dance and spin and dust everything in icing sugar and gift, gift a little love. Surrounding ourselves with friends and family and doing what we do best, crafting through cooking, makes these wounded December days sweeter...
I recently did the Myers Briggs personality test. Oh, I adore things like that. Don't we all just love to hear about ourselves? It's endlessly fascinating...to ourselves. Anyway I am said to be an ESFJ, which I am told indentifies me as a "provider" and someone who strongly upholds and cherishes traditions. Truth. This year, we started a new tradition. Christmas cooking with Rosa and her girls.
Some people truly are angels, guiding you through life, sharing your hard times and celebrating the good. So it's quite fitting that we made Crostoli with our friends. You see, Crostoli are a traditional Italian treat made at Carnevale and Lent, and these fairy light bites are said to be the food of angels. Stirring and kneading, rolling and cutting, frying and dusting. Sometimes rolling the dough too thin and sometimes overfrying...last Saturday we learnt and laughed and loved and in doing so created a new tradition. Us girls, cooking at Christmas.
I can hardly wait until next year.
Lunch time with beautiful salads, cheese and Sicilian sausage and mascarpone strudel. It was all just divine. If you want to learn how to make the strudel and similarly blissful bites (which trust me, you do), book in to Rosa's cooking class (see my blog post, here). And keep your eyes open for her Sicilian tour next year. Sicily through Rosa's eyes is the most beautiful thing.
For dessert we sampled our fresh Crostoli (heavenly) and some of Rosa's biscotti (this time with a cherry in the middle, what a great festive touch).
Thank you, Rosa, for sharing your mother-in-law's recipe with us today. What a true treat! Rosa encourages you to make Crostoli with your family, involving children and adults alike in the process, having fun together making the shapes and twisting the pastry.
Makes around 60 Crostoli. Possibly more...I did get carried away with the sampling once we got home.
2 tablespoons White Sugar
1 & 1/2 cups Plain Flour
1 & 1/2 cups Self Raising Flour
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup Brandy/Whisky
1/2 cup White Wine
zest of 1 Lemon
1 litre Canola Oil for frying
1 & 3/4 cup Icing Sugar for dusting
1. Place the egg in a large bowl and whisk it well. Add the sugar and continue to whisk. Add a small amount of both flours and whisk again.
2. Add the oil, brandy, wine, zest and the rest of the flour. Mix well.
3. Turn the dough out onto a board or bench and knead for ~3 minutes. The dough needs to be firm, not soft. Form into a log then cut into 7 pieces.
4. Pass the dough through a pasta machine as follows: 1st setting four times (folding in half each time to create a smooth, even rectangle). 2nd-6th setting one time each until a long sheet of pastry forms. Not too thin that it becomes transparent but not too thick that it feels heavy. Think egg pasta pappardelle thickness.
5. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the sheet of dough into strips ~4cm wide and put a slit in each strip. Turn each strip inside out, folding the top or bottom through the slit. Place on a tea bowl and continue with the rest of the dough.
6. Deep fry the strips in hot oil (a piece of dough should sizzle nicely when you drop it in as a test) a few at a time until slightly golden. Remove with tongs and drain on a piece of paper towel. 7. Arrange on a plate and when ready to serve, sift icing sugar generously over the top. If storing, use paper towel between layers to keep them crisp and store in an airtight container or cooking pot. Dust with icing sugar only to serve, not earlier. Best enjoyed with hot coffee.
I hope you feel much love this month...much sweet, sugar-dusted love from the angels in your lives.